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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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sara callahan

sara callahan Owner/President

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Is Guerrilla Social Media A Good Strategy?

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It seems as if every big event nowadays is live tweeted by brands seeking to gain free marketing on the back of these popular events. This last Super Bowl saw brands literally setting up war rooms filled with social media professionals, graphic designers and even lawyers, simply to post content in reaction to real-time events. For most events targeted by brands in this fashion, guerrilla-style social media marketing is more than likely less expensive than a 30-second TV commercial. And, if the team is creative enough, it could have more reach.

 

Oreo has won wide-spread infamy for starting this trend with its creative response to the Super Bowl blackout that occurred 2 years ago. It featured a cameo by Audi crashing the Mercedes-Benz Superdome’s big day.

 

Many brands are now trying to one-up the other and gain exposure by spending money on live social media activities, rather than ponying up for traditional advertising (thus the term “guerrilla” social media).

 

This trend has caused social media platforms to make it even easier for their advertisers to utilize these platforms to insert themselves into conversations happening around real-time events. Twitter advertisers have long had the ability to target events through phrases and hashtags. Now Facebook is joining the party with the recent rollout of a new feature allowing brands to pay to promote ads specifically tied to real-time events. While this is certainly a great new revenue stream for the social media platforms, users need to ensure they use it correctly

 

At least two brands recently experienced severe mess ups in their social media marketing efforts. One brand – Totino’s -- makers of pizza rolls – decided to get into the “live-tweeting” game during the Super Bowl, but it was very poorly executed. Apparently, someone on their social media team scheduled tweets so that it appeared they were live tweeting when, in fact, they were just pre-scheduled posts. The problem was that they were actually scheduled to be sent the day before the Super Bowl, assumedly by mistake.

 

Another recent social media faux-pas was Coca-Cola’s automated tweeting campaign which encouraged tweeters to find negative tweets and retweet them with the hashtag #MakeItHappy. Coca-Cola’s Twitter account was set to transform the tweets into pretty text art. The problem was that someone realized it was automated and tricked Coca-Cola’s Twitter account into tweeting out passages from Mein Kampf. Of course, Coca-Cola had to shut down that campaign.

 

While brands are experimenting with increased social media content marketing, attempting to engage their audience through real-time interactions, automated campaigns or scheduled posts, they are also experiencing the growing pains associated with this. Mistakes are being made and companies are experiencing the type of exposure that they don’t wish to create – negative.

 

Social media is all about human interactions. Fans of brands who engage them imagine a real person sitting behind a desk (or at the event) interacting with them. If they figure out that is not the case (which they will), those brands will accomplish the exact opposite of what they set out to do. Instead of joining the conversation, they will find they are escorted out of the party. Large-scale social media campaigns such as real-time live tweeting are hard work and can be fragile endeavors. Brands who can pull it off can win the day. But it only takes one slip to ruin the whole adventure for the brand.

 

Take care when deciding to embark on these types of voyages as, at least from a public relations perspective, it only takes one distraction to sink the whole ship.

Missy Reid
Even outside the window of a live event, using scheduled posts can be risky. Account managers should pay attention to what's going on in the world so they're always prepared to pull the plug on something that could be perceived as insensitive in a timely context. Case in point is an NRA tweet that greeted "shooters" the morning after the Colorado theater shooting. Was the author just unaware of the news or was it a case of scheduling gone bad? I've read conflicting reports. Either way, this is good evidence to pay attention to what's making headlines and make smart decisions accordingly. Great post. Lots of food for thought, especially for those who aren't trained in PR but are tasked with such a public-facing job.

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